Designing a viable land for future generations

Service Design

With IRN & The Portuguese Government


To improve the experience of land mapping and registration in rural Portugal

IRN & The Portuguese Government
Service Design
since November 2017
Strategy, Communication, Research, UX
Tiago Nunes, Maria Gomes, Assunção Sampayo, Ana Adelino, Daniela Valdez,

Miguel Coutinho

Raquel Félix


João Joaquim


Henrique Neves


Luís Medeiros



Recommendation reports such as UX recommendations for the platform based on interviews, user testing, and insights from field observation to improve services


Improvement of customer service through user journeys (citizens and technicians), registration shadowing, and feedback forms


Communication and strategy assets


Algorithm conceptualization

Bupi - O Bonito


After almost a century of several failed attempts to establish a coherent rural land mapping and registration system across Portugal, in 2017, the Government decided to try a digital-native approach to finally understand who owns what and where.

But would a digital platform enable an elderly population to register and identify their properties using aerial/satellite images?

our role


Evaluate and improve the whole experience of the public service.


Develop a mobilization strategy targeted to local communities through communication.


To map


of the combined territory across the




We assembled a multidisciplinary team of distinctive brains and fully immersed ourselves in one of the target municipalities, from where we could observe, empathize and better understand how local people relate to the land.

To learn about the origins, the stories, and the relationships people have with their lands.

To see how people manage and define their lands’ limits and also learn about their experiences with the existing service.

We placed ourselves into a land identification and registry process, and we even tried to buy an 11,572m2 property.

To self-document our experience. 
To involve and generate commitment from local stakeholders.

To learn and test different scenarios, experiences, and approaches to the population




Observed processes

from users at the information desks


Key stakeholders

in participatory design


Locations visited

10 municipalities + other similar contexts


km traveled

Tiago map 2
team in forest


Once the recommendations from our service design report started to be implemented, registration skyrocketed.



in January 2018


to more than


by November 2018

We weren’t entirely satisfied yet, and so we proposed a redefinition of the vision for the whole project


  • satellite images
  • historical databases of ownership
  • every bit of publicly available geo-referenced data

together with:

  • computer algorithms

in order to understand:

  • the existence of rural properties in a given area
  • their most likely boundaries
  • their probable owners.

Yes, we went from analyzing 50-year-old documents by hand to deploying big data and machine learning across huge data sets.

Besides expanding the project, improving the algorithm, and developing visual support for mass media communication, we studied how the data collected can activate and optimize synergies across public institutions to empower entrepreneurs from all over the country to find new ways to enrich rural Portugal, while also promoting cooperation between territories and public organizations. 

Over the years, Bupi has been recognized with several awards: it was a finalist at the 2019 Service Design Network Awards in Toronto, Canada. It received the Best Digital Transformation Project award at the 2019 Portugal Digital Awards and the “Territories and Cities of the Future” category in the APDC’s Digital Business Awards 2021.

From the land up — BUPi’s timeline

As you read above BUPi started as an 11-month research and service design project in November 2017. The pilot and its positive impact were so significant that in 2023 we are still working with what is now a successful and major project nationwide with the capacity to inspire similar actions across the globe. To help better understand how the project evolved, we will start by clarifying what’s BUPi and eBUPi.

BUPi is the pilot’s name and platform for property owners registering their territories. The main goal is to enable territorial planning by knowing what belongs to who and therefore be able to value and manage resources and prevent and manage disasters such as wildfires. The premise that “knowledge is power” is embedded in the project and its outcomes.

eBupi stands for “estrutura de missão” and is the task force whose mission is to expand Bupi coherently and sustainably. Its work bridges the expansion process’s political, institutional, and operational management. They enable the internal communication directed to the municipalities and workers on the front line and guide the application processes of new territories.

Here’s a timeline of this journey.

Late 2017 — 2018: research, pilot, and data for service design

We are on the field deciphering cartographies, talking to people, and experiencing and rethinking the processes on existing front desks — all to understand and improve the citizens’ journey and increase the identification of properties.

The pilot is fully running across 10 municipalities. Its success exceeds everyone’s expectations, and the insights and data from the field are used for prototyping and iterating BUPi’s first platform. We also conceptualized an algorithm to map the territory known as BUPi Lab.

We audited and validated the UX experience and designed the brand and communication plans for BUPi defining the key messages and channels and envisioning the visual translation to an audience that wasn’t digitally native and whose engagement the project’s success depended on.

2019 — mid-2020: strategy for growth

In 2019 BUPi won the Best Digital Transformation Project in Portugal’s Digital Awards and is a finalist at the Service Design Network Awards in Toronto.
This period has less visible outputs, but it was crucial to consolidate the project. We co-defined the project’s expansion strategy and legal obligations during this period.

We bring new governance models to the table and start to design why and what eBUPi will be.

Late 2020 — 2021: expansion and consistency

eBUPi was born. A fully dedicated task force to drive and enhance BUPi’s expansion from within. With Company helps to define the organization’s culture, values, and strategic axes. We are responsible for the communication plan, eBupi materials, and a rebranding for BUPi. 

In 2021 BUPi starts its expansion, opening the possibility for municipalities to apply. The expansion’s success links closely to eBupi’s work. We support that work by taking a role of strategic but practical guidance reinforced by frequent field trips to understand and map the challenges the front workers face and design solutions.

With Company does the UX diagnosis and validation to update BUPi s platform, crossing it with information from the field to better respond to the needs of a broader range of citizens.

From late 2021 to today

BUPi wins the “Territories and Cities of the Future” category at the 31st Digital Business Congress by Associação Portuguesa para o Desenvolvimento das Comunicações (APDC).

With Company keeps feeding the brand and its communication outputs. The project is fully autonomous, and we assume a role of strategic support and guidance. Some of the key and ongoing actions include:

  • planning and facilitating offsites for eBUPi teams every three months
  • keeping BUPi' 's visual universe coherent by designing new pieces according to the guidelines defined in the brand's architecture
  • we digitally translated the data and insights from the people on the field
  • identification of properties

From today to the future

We keep learning and boosting BUPi through service design because we use it as a systemic methodology. Our approach is at the intersection of strategy, UX, branding, data analysis, empathy, and radical listening. Posing the right questions was crucial to creating what later proved to be the right solution. The service was truly put to work through design: the communication strategy went beyond the outputs and was more about understanding how the people would listen and mobilize to register their land. BUPi Lab and the algorithm we conceptualized is a powerful tool with the potential to grow and serve globally as part of a solution to fight climate disasters.

In December 2022, BUPi counted 143 municipalities registered on the mainland — Portugal counts a total of 308, with 278 being on the continent.

Follow BUPi’s ever-going progress here.


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